13 Pro Tips For Making The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven. The aroma instantly transports us back to our grandmother's house, where warm cookies were a mainstay of our childhood. They are a relatively simple treat to bake yourself, but there is something about a chocolate chip cookie from someone who really knows what they are doing that is hard to replicate. Fortunately, the secrets of the trade are not a secret at all, and there are endless tips on how to bake your cookies just like the professionals.

It all starts with assembling the best ingredients — something that seems intuitive but requires some research to make sure you are buying the best components that money can buy. You also cannot discount the value of taking your time during various steps in the process, such as mixing your ingredients, or not rushing to throw your dough in the oven. And to top it all off, there are several tools you should invest in to elevate your baking to the next level. All of these points will be covered today in this lineup of professional tips to bake the ultimate chocolate chip cookie.

Use multiple kinds of chocolate

Most home bakers will resort to a bag of semisweet chocolate chips they picked up from the grocery store when making chocolate chip cookies. While bittersweet is totally a tasty option for your cookies, you may also want to expand your horizons and experiment with different kinds of chocolate.

You want to strike a good balance between the chocolate chips and the cookie dough as far as flavor goes. This could vary depending on your personal preferences. So, solely choosing a sweeter option like milk or white chocolates could wind up with a cookie that is a bit on the sugary side. If you have a sweet tooth, then that might be a runaway hit. But if the thought of a super-sweet cookie makes your teeth ache in pain, then consider opting for a more bitter chocolate, like semisweet or dark. You could even try baking chocolate, but keep in mind that it likely will not retain its shape as well as a chocolate chip will. For even better results, try mixing and matching multiple kinds of chocolate for unique flavors. Who knows, perhaps you will come up with a one-of-a-kind chocolate combo resulting in a secret recipe you can pass down to your grandkids.

Do not use the wrong kind of flour

If you are making cookies from scratch, then you will want to assemble all of your wet and dry ingredients prior to starting the baking process. The latter will include sugar and flour. If you have never baked before or you are somewhat unfamiliar with how different components can impact the final result, you might not give a second thought to picking up a bag of flour in the grocery store. However, it is important to know that there are different kinds of flour, and choosing the wrong one could give you a cookie with a totally different texture than what you had in mind.

Flour can vary from your standard all-purpose flour to more specific kinds like cake flour, whole wheat flour, and bread flour. None of these are necessarily wrong choices, but they will alter the texture and even the flavor to a certain extent. The safest bet if you want a chocolate chip cookie just like the ones from grandma's house is sticking with all-purpose flour to start. Then, you can branch out and try different kinds of flour, or even mix two kinds together to see how it changes the final result.

Bring your butter to room temperature

Like most baked goods, you will need to stock up on a fair amount of butter before baking homemade chocolate chip cookies. Mixing butter with your ingredients is going to be an important step, but before you can do that, there is one matter you must tend to. Your life will be a lot easier once the butter is softened, meaning it has to be brought to room temperature.

You do not want to melt the butter, so you will need to make sure you set aside enough time to let the butter soften. You can speed up the process a bit by chopping the butter into smaller squares, or you can roll it out using a rolling pin. Either method will help cut down on the time it will take for the butter to reach room temperature, which will then make it much easier to mix with other ingredients.

Weigh your ingredients

There are two methods you could use when preparing your ingredients to bake anything from cookies to cake to loaves of bread. The first, which is the one primarily used among home bakers, is measuring your ingredients using units of volume, such as cups or tablespoons. The other method, and the one you should be using if you want to improve your baking prowess, is done by weighing your ingredients with a kitchen scale.

Weighing your ingredients as opposed to measuring them is the preferred approach for professional bakers. By going with weight, you are ensuring that your cookies will come out the same way each and every time. On the contrary, using measuring cups might result in inconsistent cookies — one day you add slightly more than one cup of flour, the next you add slightly less. It may not seem like a huge difference, but when professional chefs prefer one process over the other, it is usually for a good reason.

Rest your dough in the refrigerator before baking

Baking chocolate chip cookies is a relatively simple process once you get the hang of it, and they take no time at all to bake. It can be tempting to throw your freshly mixed dough right into the oven, but this is where you will want to pause and wait for the best results. Like many other baked goods, you will want to allow the dough to rest before baking. You cannot rest the dough on the counter, however. You will need to make room in your refrigerator and have the dough chill.

This does not need to take very long; you only need to let the dough rest for as little as 30 minutes. Consider it a step in the process as you clean up and put all of the baking tools away. You can let the dough rest for much longer if you are preparing a batch of cookies for an event that is a few days away. But by allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator, the cookies will turn out nice and chewy.

Sprinkle sea salt on top

Few things are as delicious as freshly baked cookies, and you would be in good company if you are one of those home bakers who immediately dive into a tray as soon as they come out of the oven. First, you want the cookies to cool just a bit, but second, do not assume that they are complete just because the baking process is over. If you want to prepare chocolate chip cookies like a professional, there is one final ingredient that you will want to add for the ultimate flavor explosion: sea salt.

Sea salt sprinkled on top of your chocolate chip cookies accomplishes a couple of things. First, the larger-sized salt gives your cookies a nice crunch to contrast the ooey-gooey softness of the cookie. Second, sweet and salty flavors pair wonderfully together. If you have never sprinkled sea salt flakes on top of your chocolate chip cookies, give it a try. You might discover a new non-negotiable step in your baking operation.

Use the best quality chocolate you can buy

All of the ingredients used in baking chocolate chip cookies are everyday pantry items that you can easily find at your supermarket. From sugar to butter, the basic foundations of a great chocolate chip cookie are available without racking up a major grocery bill. In fact, you probably do not need to venture out to the store to stock up on the components. While any kind of sugar or eggs will work just the same, there is one ingredient you may want to consider upgrading: the chocolate.

There are varying levels of quality when it comes to chocolate, and not all kinds are created equal. Lower-quality chocolate may contain unnecessary ingredients, such as vegetable oil or added sugars. For the ultimate chocolate chip cookie, you want to shop for chocolates that are made with dairy and contain as much natural cocoa as possible. This will typically mean keeping away from processed chocolates, like milk or white chocolates.

Take your time combining butter and sugar

One of the things professional bakers know is that there is a specific way in which various ingredients should be mixed together when making chocolate chip cookies. You may have heard about wet and dry materials being prepared separately before being combined, but there is a pair of items that professional bakers make sure to mix together. This is done in a process known as creaming, or whipping together your butter and sugar.

Taking the time to cream the butter and sugar together is key in baking cookies with the perfect texture. To do this, you want to mix the butter and sugar together for several minutes. You definitely do not want to undershoot the timing of this step. Mixing thoroughly creates air bubbles that will give your cookie a lighter-than-air consistency. You also do not want to mix for too long either, as the mixture will then start to break down and create the opposite effect. With properly beaten sugar and butter, your chocolate chip cookies will come out perfectly fluffy each and every time.

Experiment with different add-in ingredients

There is a reason chocolate chip cookies have stood the test of time and remain one of the most popular kinds of cookies to snack on. The simplicity of mixing chocolate chips into a soft and fluffy sugary cookie is, in a word, magical. One might ask if it is not broken, why fix it? But if you like other flavors in your cookies, you can mix in additional ingredients to elevate your snack to the next level.

Some of the more popular items that professional bakers might add to their chocolate chip cookies are nuts, like macadamia or walnuts. But other not-so-obvious ingredients that will completely change the flavor profile include cayenne pepper and cornmeal. Like gooey cookies? Try mixing in cream cheese with your dough batter. Prefer bitter chocolate? Try espresso powder for a richer flavor. Chocolate chip cookies were famously invented by mistake, so do not be afraid to experiment with materials that may come across as sacrilege.

Use a cookie or ice cream scoop

There are little adjustments you can make here and there that make baking cookies a much easier process. One of those comes in when it is time to actually separate the dough into individual cookies before heading into the oven. It is easy enough to use a regular spoon to scoop the dough and place it on the baking sheet, but you can speed up the process and keep your fingers clean by using an ice cream scoop. The bigger your batch of cookies, the more an ice cream scoop will come in handy to improve the efficiency in the kitchen.

In addition to making the process neater, using an ice cream scoop serves another important purpose that separates novice bakers from professionals. It will help keep your cookies a universal size, which results in the cookies being cooked more evenly. Turns out, ice cream scoops are handy for more than just ice cream.

Use the correct baking sheet

There are various tools of the trade when it comes to baking chocolate chip cookies. From mixing bowls to ice cream scoops, a kitchen needs to be stocked with not only the right ingredients but the right equipment as well. And when it comes time to actually bake the cookies, you want to make sure you have enough baking sheets. However, it is also important you have the right kind of baking sheet before you begin.

You might think that all baking sheets are created equal. But if you look closely at the different ones in your home, you might notice that they come in not only various sizes, but also in different colors and shades. And when you are baking chocolate chip cookies, picking a baking sheet of the wrong color can totally throw off the final results. The lighter the baking sheet, the better, as dark-colored sheets will absorb heat more quickly and can cause your cookies to come out over-baked. If you use a liner, try to avoid silicon and instead opt for parchment paper. And, of course, you want to make sure the dough is spaced evenly so the cookies come out with a consistent level of doneness.

Adjust the white sugar to brown sugar ratio for crispier cookies

One of the things that make cookies as tasty as they are is perhaps something your dentist does not want to hear: they are full of sugar. There is really no way around this, as you will need some kind of sweetener to achieve that ideal flavor everyone loves when they bite into a chocolate chip cookie. Yes, there are healthy alternatives out there, but nothing can quite replicate that quintessential flavor we remember from our childhood. Most recipes will call for certain amounts of white and brown sugar but do not feel beholden to those exact amounts.

You can experiment with the white-to-brown sugar ratio until you find that perfect balance that produces your preferred level of crispiness. In general, the more brown sugar used in the recipe, the more soft and chewy your cookie will come out. If you prefer your cookies to be crispy, then stick with white sugar. And when it comes to light versus dark brown sugar, you will notice a richer flavor more akin to molasses if you opt for the latter variety. But rest assured, whether you use white or brown sugar, your cookies will still come out perfectly sweet and tasty.

Do not over-bake

This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but it is worth emphasizing before you go off to the grocery store to begin acquiring ingredients for chocolate chip cookies. Professionals know you simply cannot risk over-baking your cookies. Nothing is more disappointing than opening the oven door and catching a whiff of a batch of cookies that are slightly scorched, or picking them up from the pan with your spatula only to discover a near-blackened bottom.

In general, you should aim to take your cookies out slightly before you think they might be done. Cookies will continue to bake for a couple of minutes after they come out of the oven, so if you wait to take them out until they are "done" in the oven, they may tread into over-cooked territory by the time they cool. If you are using dark baking sheets, you also want to undershoot how long the cookies bake in the oven, as a darker sheet will absorb heat and could bake your cookies quicker. After all of the hard work you put into weighing and mixing the right ingredients like a professional baker, the last thing you want is to accidentally over-bake or even burn your cookies.